A sensor system positioned in strategic areas throughout the hotel detects three types of emotions from customers’ faces. This “emotional technology” can be moved from Big data to Smart data and in the future will offer customers tailor-made services. BlueBay Hotels has developed this project alongside the Pyramics Company and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.
BlueBay Hotels, the eighth Spanish hotel company by international presence and the 11th largest hotel group regarding hotel rooms , has launched a pioneering project in the hotel sector in Spain to measure and analyse the moods of customers staying at the hotel and personalise the service offering provided to the guests. The project has been named the “happiness thermometer” and is being carried out with the Pyramics Company and the Fraunhofer Institute, both from Germany, at the Hotel Miguel Angel by Bluebay in Madrid.
The system incorporates the latest advances in “emotional technology” to learn more about customers’ emotions. The “happiness thermometer” has five sensors strategically located in different public areas around the landmark hotel in Madrid. In the first phase of the project, the sensors can identify basic emotions like happiness, anger and even neutral sentiments of customers’ faces, although the aim in the future is to offer tailor-made services specifically adapted to their emotions.
“One of this project’s interesting features is the possibility to genuinely know how customers are feeling, without intermediaries, and to act accordingly and provide them with the best possible stay. The hotel business has to move from just selling beds to searching for its customers’ happiness, so we have to step forward and embrace innovation. Traditional tools like questionnaires and online reviews still work, but we need to integrate a new emotional indicator. We call it the triple indicator of happiness,” says Jamal Satli Iglesias, Chairman of BlueBay Hotels.
How the “happiness thermometer” works
Various sensors are installed in public transit areas inside the Hotel Miguel Ángel by BlueBay and collect the customers’ expressions by using facial recognition techniques. These measure expressions like happiness, anger and neutrality by “triangulating” their faces when they look at the sensor. However, they can also detect parameters like age, gender, the location in the hotel and exposure time.
The compiled data is sent via Wi-Fi to a server that computes it and emits to a database that collects all the parameters specified (Big data). Further analysis (Smart Data) allows the hotel to customise the leisure and services on offer to ensure the guest enjoys their stay and has a positive experience. “In the future, this project will allow us to know in which part of the hotel the customers feel most comfortable, improve these areas even more, and also rethink the other areas for our customers’ benefit,” says Jamal Satli Iglesias, Chairman of the hotel group.
InnoBBation at BlueBay Hotels
BlueBay Hotels has launched a roadmap to promote innovation in the company and become a benchmark in this area in the Spanish hotel sector. The “happiness thermometer” is one of the projects included in the company’s ten key points that embody a methodology to establish innovation in strategic areas such as business management, HR, communication, quality, etc. The ten keys to innoBBation at Bluebay Hotels are:
1. The only constant is change. Today we live in a world of permanent change. Incorporating the concept of change into our way of thinking and working, into the way we interact internally and with our customers, is essential if we want to adapt to the social and economic reality we are facing. We have to prepare for life in the future by managing the present.
2. Innovation is about “us”, not “me”. At BlueBay Hotels we believe in open innovation. We want to tell the whole world what we do, and rather than thinking outside the box, we’re opening up that box to everyone who wants to join us on this journey to innoBBation. At BlueBay Hotels we have been presenting our project in different forums and at key tourism and innovation events to entrepreneurs, professionals, opinion makers, colleagues, the media, students and marketing fanatics.
3. Emotions cause actions. Do you remember the last time you asked a member of staff or co-worker, “What do you really like doing? What can you do? What would you like to do for the company?” At BlueBay Hotels we are determined to encourage “intrapreneurship,” to promote mental agility, emotional mobility and resilience in the face of change as a working philosophy. Don’t forget to ask the people who work with you what they’d like to do for the company — you might be in for a surprise!
4. An Arab proverb says “if you want to travel fast, travel alone, if you want to travel far, travel together.” And our world is the world of travel! In this environment, when we talk about dynamism, change and evolution, our objective is to travel far, and enjoy the journey. It’s a journey we want to undertake together, in strategic partnerships with companies that share our philosophy and our goals.
5. If you’re talking to butterflies, talk about flowers. Innovation should not only be directed towards becoming more profitable or more visible in a sector as competitive as tourism, but also towards communicating and promoting every one of our corporate values. And if there is one thing we are sure about at BlueBay Hotels, it’s that it doesn’t make sense to do business if we don’t build up our company, and return to society part of what it has given us.
6. Sustainability. For BlueBay Hotels, sustainability is a holistic concept, which means going much further than presenting proposals to reduce energy consumption. Innovation means both watching fuel consumption in the Middle East, where there is no tradition of treating it as a scarce resource, or teaching a waiter on the Riviera Maya that every drop of water counts, when they know that endless underground rivers are flowing under their feet.
7. “If you want your team to build a boat, make sure they can imagine and visualise the excitement of sailing”. 21st-century companies will not survive unless they invest in the talent and motivation of their “Internal clients” (the ones who come to work every morning feeling confident, proud and passionate about what they do and what they represent). To achieve this, and as a central axis of our innovation, we nurture and strengthen the company’s internal know-how, so that it is always in a state of continuous growth.
8. Implicit and explicit innovation. There is obviously no way we could talk about innovation without initiatives that use or orchestrate technology focused directly on improving customer experience and satisfaction in our hotels.
9. Innovation isn’t our mantra, it’s our karma. InnoBBation in our company should be everywhere, in every department, in all the teams at BlueBay Hotels and it should not just be a question of internalising a way of thinking and working, or rolling out specific technological solutions, but instead should be present in all our hotel spaces.
10. Commitment to InnoBBation. The last of our ten commandments is commitment: we need teams that are committed to innovation, not ones that are just taking part.